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Airport Connections – Airport Disconnections

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Call me crazy, but I love airports…

As an avid and frequent traveler, I love airports. Seriously, airports are the gateways to new cities and new adventures. And they tend to reflect it, featuring highlights of the city, welcoming excited vacationers and wishing a fond farewell in the same breath. They’re also home to a lot of frustration, travelers mishaps, delayed and frustrated people waylaid for hours or even days. As I meander through the airport waiting for my next connection, I see other travelers connecting electronically, swishing fingers over tablets, frantically tapping that last urgent text before boarding the soaring tin can and being out reach for hours. Connection to the destination – and to our digital lives – is top priority in airports today.

how limited we are without powerNot long ago, on a two-hour layover in some random airport that looked like it belonged in a previous era, I was excruciatingly low on power. I started a slow shuffle in search of power, meandering around the gate area, surreptitiously looking for that magical point of power before anyone else found it. Finally success. I found one, behind a gate agent. I begged the use of the outlet, sitting uncomfortably tucked into an awkward corner with a steady draft of frigid air blowing across my back.

The things we do to stay connected…

Fortunately, airports and airlines alike now provide free wifi and many have adapted their gate areas into mini charging stations. I give kudos to Southwest Airlines as they really have led an admirable charge in this (pardon the pun). In airports across the country, they’ve replaced uncomfortable rows of chairs with comfy, smart chairs. Soft and squishy armchairs that are also hubs for outlets and USB ports. Even multiple devices aren’t a problem – heaven.  

Not all airports have been able to embrace charging chairs, instead installing more cost-effective “charging towers” – not as comfortable, a little awkward but completely useful. During a busy or crowded time, it’s tricky to find an open outlet – never mind an open chair near it. You’re welcome to charge your devices, but you’ll have to sit a few rows away, which is akin to being asked to pick decaf coffee or none at all. Neither choice is ideal or even comfortable, nerve-wracking to say the least.

traveler love for power-friendly airportsAnd, lastly, we have the uberly-smart architects who realized early on the attachment most travelers have to their electronic leashes. They’ve begun to build gorgeous (yes, gorgeous) working stations, high tables and stools, each with their own outlets and USB ports, nestled in between gates and a short hop away from a coffee shop.

In addition to these lovely work stations, they’ve begun to strategically place comfy chairs, really, unique works of art, that happen to be functional as well, as a testament to local businesses. Allowing trapped travelers to either watch the chaos around them or to engross themselves in business or a rousing game of words with friends.

As a very frequent traveler, I know I’ll be spending a few hours in an airport or two or three in the very near future. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or taking your first airplane ride, airports and airlines alike are working hard to connect you quickly to your destination – and to your digital world back home. It’s a nice way to welcome you to your next adventure, don’t you think?

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